15 rules, tips and mantras to improve your web copy
Professional copywriters, because they live and breathe this stuff, probably have most or all of the points in this advice neatly wrapped up.
On the other hand, I know some job roles have pretty diverse responsibilities, of which writing for the web is just one. If this is you – marketing manager, social media executive, startup director – here’s valuable insight into how the pros craft good web copy.
- SEO trends come and go but good writing is timeless. Work SEO around your content and not your content round SEO.
- Since Shareware arrived on floppies, tools/apps/plugins that claim to improve copy have crushed creative hearts everywhere. Avoid, or at least be careful.
- Your visitors will scan your page from H1s to H2s, down the left edge, and through bullet points; these areas should tell the story at a glance.
- Further to the point above, make your copy compelling by answering your readers’ questions well; being thorough yet succinct and concise. They might read it all.
- Have confidence: you know your stuff. Write from the heart. Don’t be cocky though – egos are notorious wafflers. Kill your darlings.
- Tell ‘em what you’re going to tell ‘em; tell ‘em; and tell ‘em what you just told them. Repetition makes it stick.
- Cut down your use of unnecessary punctuation, which can be distracting and looks archaic in the digital environment. Update your style guide so everyone follows.
- Getting your message across clearly and efficiently is your goal. Test drive Plain English Campaign guidelines and see your copy (and conversions) improve.
- If a repetitive-block layout demands it, write sections to a length. Copy becomes part of the design and should have balance and beauty.
- Meta descriptions are a source of conflict. No longer useful for rankings, SEOs don’t care. But for marketers they comprise valuable advertising space. Discuss.
- However much you research your demographic, you still make assumptions. Test your CTA word choices in particular; the results might surprise you.
- It’s good practice to make sure your paragraphs don’t start with the same letter as the ones above or below. Try it. It looks weird.
- Your expertise is the most important defence against those who would make the web copy all about the company, rather than all about the customers.
- If you’re struggling to create interesting copy for a page, it either shouldn’t exist or someone hasn’t been clear enough about its objective.
- As with all your copy, whether it’s for the web or for a printed brochure, read it aloud to check its sense, rhythm and to catch any typos.
Improving your web copy will be a slow-burner – stick with it. If you use only half of these rules, you’re on the right track.
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